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Australia’s Opposition Leader Puts Spotlight on Bitcoin…Because Terrorism

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

Australia’s opposition leader is pushing the government to increase its scrutiny into bitcoin after linking the cryptocurrency with terrorism financing.

Shorten was delivering a speech  [PDF] at the House of Representatives this week when he spoke about terrorists using modern technologies like encrypted messaging and digital currencies, specifically mentioning bitcoin.

As the leader of the Australian Labor party, Shorten stated his desire to collaborate with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to sort-of-imply an agenda toward installing backdoors in popular messaging encrypted applications.

“This is not about creating or exploiting back doors as some privacy advocates continue t osay despite constant reassurance from us,” he argued.

Shorten then admitted not knowing enough about bitcoin and its use in the dark web, but went ahead to link the cryptocurrency with the financing of terrorism. In stating that terrorists are increasingly using the dark web to avoid detection, he called on the government keep an eye on bitcoin transactions by investing resources toward such an oversight.

He stated:

We must target this threat head on. As terrorists adapt their methods and seek to hide online, we must ensure our agencies have the tools, resources and technology so terrorism has no place to hide. Likewise, we need to track and target terrorists as they seek to hide and obscure their financial dealings through electronic currencies like bitcoin.

Despite the recurring theme of the mainstream and authorities linking terrorism financing with bitcoin, there has been very little evidence to suggest that terrorists are abusing the cryptocurrency, where transactions are recorded in a public ledger.

A Europol report from early 2016 in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks explicitly stated:

Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.

The Australian Labor Party, with center-left political leanings, has been the country’s opposition party since the 2013 elections. Shorten further revealed that Australia’s Attorney-General will be bringing up the issue of decrypting encryption technologies when visiting his Five Eyes counterparts later this month. The intelligence alliance comprises of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly likely that Australia will regulate local bitcoin exchanges in the country, bringing them under the scope of anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing legislation.

A recent Government statement on the matter read:

The Government is committed to facilitating innovation and growth in the digital currency sector and considers that appropriate anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulation will aid that development.

Featured image from Wikimedia .